Fish oil sup­ple­ments don’t help dry eye dis­ease

Kuwait Times - - Health -

TAMPA: Fish oil sup­ple­ments have long been rec­om­mended to peo­ple suf­fer­ing from dry eye dis­ease, a com­mon ail­ment that af­fects mil­lions world­wide-but a study out Fri­day says they don’t work. “Omega-3 sup­ple­ments are no more ef­fec­tive than placebo at al­le­vi­at­ing dry eye symp­toms,” read the find­ings from a ran­dom­ized clin­i­cal trial in­volv­ing 535 peo­ple and pub­lished in the New Eng­land Jour­nal of Medicine.

Dry eye dis­ease af­fects more than 16 mil­lion Amer­i­cans, caus­ing burn­ing, itch­ing, sting­ing, and im­paired vi­sion. Ex­perts es­ti­mate that in the United States dry eye costs some $55 bil­lion per year in lost pro­duc­tiv­ity and med­i­cal care, ac­cord­ing to back­ground in­for­ma­tion in the ar­ti­cle. Those en­rolled in the study had all strug­gled with mod­er­ate to se­vere dry eye for at least six months.

The sub­jects were ran­domly as­signed to ei­ther a daily dose of an omega-3 sup­ple­ment or an olive oil placebo, de­liv­ered in iden­ti­cal cap­sules. Nei­ther the pa­tients nor their eye doc­tors knew which treat­ment group they were in. Af­ter a year, symp­toms had “im­proved sub­stan­tially in both groups,” said the re­port. A to­tal of 61 per­cent of peo­ple in the omega-3 group and 54 per­cent of those in the con­trol group achieved at least a 10-point im­proved, but the dif­fer­ence be­tween groups was not sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant. “We were sur­prised that the omega-3 sup­ple­ments had no ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect,” said study co-au­thor Vati­nee Bunya, an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor of oph­thal­mol­ogy at Perel­man School of Medicine at Univer­sity of Penn­syl­va­nia. “The re­sults are sig­nif­i­cant and may change the way a lot of oph­thal­mol­o­gists and op­tometrists treat their pa­tients.”

Ac­cord­ing to Matthew Gorski, an oph­thal­mol­o­gist at North­well Health in New York, doc­tors in­ter­ested in dry eye and the ef­fec­tive­ness of fish oil sup­ple­ments have “ea­gerly awaited re­sults of clin­i­cal tri­als with the hope that it would po­ten­tially im­prove one’s qual­ity of life.” Gorski, who was not in­volved in the re­search, said “fur­ther stud­ies should be per­formed to con­firm this find­ing.” —AFP

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